Strathclyde Sirens Vs Loughborough Lightning

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twitter-In-Stream_Wide___Image 2 - credit Mark Pritchard

Stars victorious over league leaders Thunder

Severn Stars took three points from table toppers Manchester Thunder in a continuation of a rollercoaster Vitality Netball Superleague season. An all-round composed performance from the whole squad saw them earn the away victory at the Belle Vue Sports Village.

Head Coach, Sam Bird, praised her players on their current form, “A super third win in a row for the squad. I’m particularly proud of the performance as beating Thunder in Manchester is always a challenge, but the squad executed the game plan to the best of their ability and it paid off.”

After winning against Dragons and Sirens in recent matches, Stars travelled to Manchester on Saturday, April 13th determined to keep their run of wins. They came out firing in the first quarter with familiar turnovers from Sam Cook and Jodi-Ann Ward converted by Georgia Rowe. Stars took a small lead of two goals, but this was quickly reversed by top of the table Thunder converting three in a row to end the first quarter 13-11.

Lucy Harris moved to centre and Iona Darroch to wing attack into the second quarter, but Stars started poorly and went down by five goals early on with the score at 19-14. More turnovers from the Stars defensive unit, incredible spring from Ward and repeated shooter contact on Cook meant that Stars went on a scoring streak, taking the lead to 19-20 with seven consecutive goals against the home side.

Despite changes in the Thunder circle Stars took a convincing lead, 21-25.

Thunder made several substitutions going into the third quarter and Stars kept their format, extending their lead to 28-33. The away side lost their flow and brought on Shona O’Dwyer at wing attack, moving Darroch to back centre but Thunder didn’t miss their chances and the score was neck and neck at 36 all.

With a huge 15 minutes to play for both sides Harris came back to the court at wing attack and Thunder took the lead for the first time since the second quarter, 37-36. After thrilling end to end netball it was down to Stars to stay composed, protect the ball and convert their chances. They did just that and with more spectacular turnovers from Cook, Stars earnt the 47-50 victory.

Sam Bird said, “We knew we had to disrupt Thunder’s rhythm and isolate key players and we did that well. A good day for the club and we look to continue to work hard this week as we approach the double header weekend.”

Stars next face Team Bath on Saturday, April 20 (6pm) at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena. Tickets are sold out, however tickets are available for their last home game of the season versus Wasps on Saturday, 4th May (6pm) at the University of Worcester at www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio

Tickets are still available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Image credit: Mark Pritchard

Storm vs Pulse - Steve Porter

Surrey Storm edge out London Pulse

Surrey Storm edged a tight, tension-filled game at the Sports Park arena to record a second vital victory of the week.

The lead changed hands several times throughout an enthralling 60 minutes but a resurgent Storm finally came out on top for a win which Mikki Austin declared perhaps more impressive than Monday’s win against Lightning.

Storm raced into an early 10-6 lead but seemingly within seconds Pulse had reduced that to one goal and thus it remained. Storm led 17-15 at the end of Q1 but steadily the visitors wrestled back control through Q2. They edged in front for the first time midway through the second period but the introduction of Rhea Dixon at GA helped to redress the balance somewhat.

Pulse led by three at half-time but that only spurred Storm into a comeback of their own. Within five minutes of the restart they had turned a three-goal deficit into a five-goal lead as Pulse managed to add just one to their total.

Grierson replaced Wells in attack for Pulse and they clawed their way back into the game to give Storm just a one-goal lead at the end of Q3. Then it was Pulse’s turn to force their way in front going into the final ten minutes but steadily Storm rose for one final time.

Mikki Austin’s bullet pass fed Burger to put Storm in front, 54-53, with two-and-a-half-minutes remaining and excellent game management allowed the hosts to see out the closing stages with a degree of control. Appropriately, it was Burger who netted the final goal to send Storm into next weekend’s Big Easter double-header with huge confidence.

Tickets are still available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Image credit: Steve Porter

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Dragons beat Sirens in front of biggest home crowd

Celtic Dragons took to a brand-new Welsh Netball court at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s National Indoor Athletics Centre to face their fierce Scottish rivals in Round 14, knowing that a win was vital to keep pressure on the mid-table as the season enters its final phase.

Despite a good save in the first minute from Stacian Facey, it was a scrappy start for Dragons whose second drive from centre pass was turned over by the visitors. However, accuracy was an issue for the Sirens’ shooters and Dragons were able to power their attack with some rebounds off goal at the defensive end. Nia Jones was able to effectively organise the defence of Sirens’ centre pass and she earned her first interception of the afternoon and helped Dragons take a narrow advantage after the first fifteen.

The home side made a very assertive start to the second period, with Bethan Dyke darting around the court to find plenty of options for the Dragons drive. Dyke’s feeds into Kalifa McCollin kept the Sirens’ heads spinning all afternoon and despite the increasing levels of physicality in the contest, she showed no signs of the ACL injury that ended her season last term. Dee Bolakoro was also able to make a couple of trademark interceptions and Kyra Jones performed particularly well in defence and by half time the lead had grown further still.

In the third quarter both sides seemed to lose a bit of fluency. Nevertheless, Chelsea Lewis remained strong under the goal and despite having some opportunities to make an impression on the scoreboard, Sirens remained adrift. Dyke continued to lead the Dragons attack and McCollin was also able to shoot some fancy long-rangers.

Suzy Drane came on for Dyke at the start of the fourth quarter, her first start since an injury in the warm-up against Stars a fortnight ago. Dragons played with patience, Kyra Jones showing good control and decision making at the circle edge. Another tip from Facey saw the visitors’ last real chance to stage a late comeback go astray and Clare Elsley came on for Nia Jones as the game entered its final stages. Elsley made an immediate impact as she set up a great feed into McCollin as Dragons closed out the game and took a much-needed win in front of their biggest home crowd of the season.

Head coach Tania Hoffman said: “I’m very happy with that win. The girls ground that win out in what was a very physical game.

“We’ve still got to learn that when we take a lead we have to keep going, but overall I thought both our defence and attack did very well.”

Results elsewhere meant that Dragons remain in eight position with a huge weekend of fixtures ahead as the squad travels to Coventry to face both Mavericks and Wasps in the ‘Big Easter Weekend.’

Tickets are still available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning, 

Friday, 12, April, 2019 - Team Bath Arena - Bath - United Kingdom
Mandatory Photo Credit: Bob Bradford

Team Bath come from seven goals down to stun Lightning

Team Bath Netball overturned a seven-goal deficit and then held off a last-quarter comeback as they defeated top-four rivals Loughborough Lightning 57-55 in a sensational 2019 Vitality Superleague showdown that fully lived up to its pre-match billing.

The battle between third and fourth place promised to be an epic encounter and it was all that and more as another four-figure crowd at the Team Bath Arena was treated to a spectacle high on quality, drama and tension.

There was nothing to separate the teams in the first quarter but a seven-goal burst during the second period gave Lightning the initiative, only for the Sitec-sponsored Blue & Gold to rally superbly.

They closed the gap to three at half-time before a magnificent team performance in the third-quarter, which they won 21-11, put Team Bath into a seemingly comfortable 49-42 lead.

Lightning had other ideas, though, and managed to draw level midway through a breathless final quarter but Team Bath dug deep, held their nerve and managed to wrap up three vital points in the race for the semi-finals.

Head Superleague coach Anna Stembridge said: “It was a brilliant game, we knew it was going to be an awesome spectacle. We know that Lightning have the attacking power to build a lead and kill the game but I was really proud of the way we stuck to the task and showed such grit and character.

“We got over the line, we got the points and we have learnt a lot from that game and that performance.”

Defender Summer Artman, who was Genuine Car Services Player of the Match for a second successive home game, added: “As a team we are finding different ways to win, so we’ll take coming back from a seven-goal deficit.

“We could feel the pressure on the court but the crowd really helped us, they fully got behind us and it feels really good to have got the win.”

Both teams went into the match on the back of their first defeats in more than a month and were clearly determined to make quick amends.

A high-quality first period saw Team Bath got off to a confident start as they turned over Lightning’s centre-pass and took a lead that they held until the closing stages of the quarter.

The Blue & Gold were pinging the ball around the court quickly, while Kim Commane and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis combined excellent movement with clinical finishing as the hosts edged into an 11-7 lead with five minutes of the quarter to go.

Artman and Eboni Usoro-Brown were applying excellent defensive pressure at the other end but Ella Clark and imposing shooter Mary Cholhok began to work some space and, as Lightning forced turnovers, the visitors were able to claw back Team Bath’s lead.

They edged ahead for the first time in the closing stages but a fine finish from Drakeford-Lewis on the buzzer ensured a hard-fought first quarter finished all square at 14-14.

The early stages of the second quarter continued to be evenly matched but a seven-goal blitz from the ruthless Cholhok saw Lightning take a stranglehold on the game.

The atmosphere was tense in the Team Bath Arena but the home side kept battling away and, with the crowd fired up by two superb interceptions by Usoro-Brown and Artman, they began to work their way back into the game.

With Commane providing some fine finishes, Team Bath cut the lead to two before a late goal from Clark ensured Lightning held a 38-21 advantage at the break.

There was a blow for Team Bath in the opening minute of the third quarter as Drakeford-Lewis took a knock and limped off the court but replacement Laura Rudland immediately settled into the rapid pace of the game as she set up Commane for two quick-fire goals.

She was also on target twice herself in succession as Team Bath closed to within one goal and, after a phenomenal interception from Serena Guthrie, Rudland scored again to level at 34-34 before putting the hosts ahead for the first time since quarter one.

Another Commane double quickly stretched the lead out to three goals and, while Lightning managed to stay in touch, the wind was now very much in Team Bath’s sails.

Imogen Allison and Guthrie were dominating the mid-court, forcing a number of turnovers and helping Artman and Usoro-Brown lessen the influence of Lightning’s previously influential attackers.

Rachel Shaw, Rudland and Commane were also fluid in attack as Team Bath went on to win the quarter 21-11 and turn a three-goal deficit at half-time into an emphatic 49-42 advantage.

Lightning made some attacking changes for the final 15 miites, with Amy Clinton replacing Cholhok at GS and former Team Bath player Jess Shaw – who had come on late in the third period – continuing at C.

It had a massive impact as the visitors produced another brilliant seven-goal burst to draw level at 51-51 midway through an increasingly nervy final period.

The game remained in the balance right up until the last couple of minutes before, with Drakeford-Lewis back on at GA, Team Bath finally managed to put together three goals in a row to finally kill off Lightning’s challenge.

Next up for Team Bath is a busy Easter weekend which sees them visit South West rivals on Saturday, April 20 (6pm) before taking on fellow semi-final contenders Saracens Mavericks during Super 6 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Sunday, April 21 (6pm).

Tickets for both the Mavericks game and Team Bath’s final home match of the regular season – against newcomers London Pulse on Saturday, May 4 (6pm) – are on sale now at netball.teambath.com/fixtures.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Photo credit: Bob Bradford Images